ASBC Has A New President
Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Lynn Wysolmierski, escaped special education teacher, past program director, autism specialist and longtime advocate for diversity, has become the new President of the Autism Society of Boulder County. Lynn brings many years of experience to ASBC and is excited to build upon the solid foundation created by Emmy Conroy and the many ASBC board members of the past. Read on to see what she has to say about taking on this new challenge.
Last May, when Emmy retired, my hope was to quietly weave myself into strong fabric that is the Autism Society of Boulder County without being noticed. Emmy is a hard act to follow and I know I cannot take her place. I can only take on the job.
Becoming ASBC President is a big job. The people who have come before me have built an organization that is engrained in Boulder County. Throughout the county; parents, self-advocates, educators, government officials, employers, recreational and service providers, first responders and local business look to ASBC for information, access, advocacy, support and help when they are in crisis. I have a lot to learn. I am lucky in that people have been kind and the fundamental quality of ASBC gives me time to catch up.
When I introduce myself as the new president the first question people ask is “Are you a parent?” The answer is, no. The second question I am often asked is, “Are you on the autism spectrum?” The answer to this is also no. The question that is never asked, at least not directly to me, is “If you are not a self-advocate or a parent why are you the ASBC President?” The answer to this is, experience.
Experience has taught me who I am and who I am not. Experience as a teacher and an advocate has shown me that parenting a child with a disability is unique and differs for each family and of course for each child. I never presume to know what a parent knows and as President I rely on the wealth of knowledge ASBC families readily provide. The benefit of this is, I can learn about what it means to be a family with varied challenges in all stages of a child’s life, from diagnosis to adulthood, all at one time. This helps me to try and meet the needs of all of families who access ASBC. As President I am striving to increase our outreach to families of people with significant behavioral and sensory challenges who may have extreme difficulty accessing community resources and support. I also acknowledge the need to connect with culturally diverse families and to do a better job of making sure people who do not speak English are aware of what we have to offer.
I know I am not autistic. While I introverted, enjoy smaller quiet gatherings and avoid hugs, I do not have autism. It is not my place to assign value or meaning to the communication or behavior of people with disabilities. I cannot begin to know what it is like to be treated differently because I am different. I have had autistic friends since the age of 13. These friendships have been mutual exchanges of understanding and appreciation of what is odd, interesting, annoying and fun about all of us. As president of ASBC I know we need to focus on the needs of autistic people through all the stages of life. We need to do more to help develop self-advocacy, community connection, employment, secondary education and inclusive recreation for all ages. While valuing the advantages of being autistic we also need to help those of all ages find ways to alleviate the challenges they wish to reduce through access to research, services and community partnerships. I am working to increase our partnerships with people on the spectrum as board members, committee members and collaborators in all our areas of support.
Experience has also taught me I don’t know what I don’t know. I am excited to be working with the board to move ASBC forward and I am always open to feedback. If you ever have questions, concerns or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org You can also reach me via twitter at @autism_boulder. Please let me know how I am doing and what I can do better! - Lynn
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